Pseudonymity and Genocide

Nearly 10,000 residents dance in local Dolan Maxrap folk style in Awat county in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on 9 October 2018. Photo: China News Service

In February, I asked, “Does the West Repeating Claims of China Committing Genocide in Xinjiang Reify It?” China is continually being raked over the coals by western governments and state/corporate media on whatever charge or pretext can be thrown in the hopes that something sticks to incriminate China. China’s economic ascendancy, socialism with Chinese characteristics, has thrown the capitalists of the world into a tizzy. However, to allege something so heinous as a genocide is beyond the bounds of bizarre.

If an identifiable group were being destroyed, especially a group that in 2018 constituted 12.7184 million people, that would surely be impossible to hide — even in a region as large as the autonomous province of Xinjiang. Furthermore, if one is going to allege such a horrific crime, one should not do so without irrefutable evidence.

One French journalist based in China, writing under the byline of Laurene Beaumond, criticized western media for alleging genocide1 against Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.2

She asks,

So what is this parody of a process against China from a distance, without any concrete proof, without any valid testimony, by individuals who have never set foot in this region of the world?3

Concrete evidence should be demanded of all accusers.

This genocide is alleged to have occurred although the population of Uyghurs is vastly increasing in Xinjiang. Global Times, an English-language Chinese newspaper under the People’s Daily, cites statistical data from 2010 to 2018 that show:

the Uygur population increased from 10.1715 million to 12.7184 million, an increase of 2.5469 million, or 25.04%; the population of Han ethnic group increased from 8.8299 million to 9.0068 million, an increase of 176,900 people, or 2.0%.

Data source: Fifty Years in Xinjiang (China Statistics Press, 2005,) table 2-3, The Statistical Yearbook of Xinjiang 2019. N.B., 万人=10,000 people

If factually accurate (and I have seen no refutation of the statistics), then this is an utter refutation of a genocide taking place! The only other conclusion is that the modern Chinese are absolutely incompetent genocidaires.

Western media accusations are relying, for the greatest part, on a thoroughly discredited German “academic”: Adrian Zenz.

Le Monde does not seek to buttress the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang. Instead it questions the bona fides of Laurene Beaumond. Le Monde says this person does not exist.

Global Times says she exists, but the name is a pseudonym.

This is problematic. It can be taken for granted that if one wants to work in western media then previous writings highly critical of the western Establishment and its media would shut the door quite tightly for any writing gigs in the West. But writing under a pseudonym poses ethical considerations. The monopoly media is often criticized by independent media and free thinking readers for trotting out anonymous sources. When a source is anonymous, when substantiation is lacking for what is said or written, then that source and its claims deserve to be met with skepticism.

In my mind, CGTN or any scrupulous media, should only allow persons to write under a pseudonym under stringent conditions, for example, if the writer’s life would be endangered. Also, the media would have to vouch, up front, for the bona fides of the writer or story source. This is especially so given the seriousness of a genocide allegation.

There is a solution, and it will require a bold step by “Laurene Beaumond.” She must come forward, declare her genuine identity, and present her credentials to clear all this up. CGTN needs to develop a transparent policy on the use of pseudonyms, and I’d suggest an apology might be in order for publishing this under a pseudonym.4

The heinous allegation of genocide demands a forthrightness to dispel it as disinformation. The insidiousness of disinformation is such that it has been held to be a crime against humanity and a crime against peace. Professor Anthony J. Hall made this clear:

Disinformation originates in the deliberate and systemic effort to break down social cohesion and to deprive humanity of perceptive consciousness of our conditions. Disinformation seeks to isolate and divide human beings; to alienate us from our ability to use our senses, our intellect, and our communicative powers in order to identity truth and act on this knowledge. Disinformation is deeply implicated in the history of imperialism, Eurocentric racism, American Manifest Destiny, Nazi propaganda, the psychological warfare of the Cold War, and capitalist globalization. Disinformation seeks to erode and destroy the basis of individual and collective memory, the basis of those inheritances from history which give humanity our richness of diverse languages, cultures, nationalities, peoplehoods, and means of self-determination. The reach and intensity of disinformation tends to increase with the concentration of ownership and control of the media of mass communications.

Practice open-minded skepticism; demand evidence; demand to know who the people involved are; scrutinize the history and backgrounds of the people, media, and places. In other words don’t allow yourself to easily be lied to.

  1. Several media speak of “allegations” or “accusations” of genocide in Xinjiang. E.g., CNN, BBC, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Al Jazeera, Berlinske, CTV, CBC, Forbes, etc. Japan is more cautious. It is highly recommended for those seeking insight to read the report compiled by the Qiao Collective, an all-volunteer group comprised of ethnic Chinese people living abroad, on Xinjiang that warned of “politically motivated” western disinformation. []
  2. The linked article carries an editor’s note: “Freelance journalist based in France, with a double degree in art history and archeology at the University of Sorbonne-IV and holder of a master’s degree in journalism, Laurène Beaumond has worked in various editorial offices Parisians before settling down in Beijing where she lived for almost 7 years.
    The article reflects the views of the author, and not necessarily those of CGTN Français.” []
  3. “Qu’est-ce donc cette parodie de procès que l’on fait à la Chine à distance, sans aucune preuve concrète, sans aucun témoignage valable, par des individus qui n’ont jamais mis le pied dans cette région du monde…?” []
  4. After all, Global Times demanded an apology from Le Monde for doubting the existence of “Laurene Beaumond.” No writer exists under this name, so, in fact, Le Monde was accurate on this account. []
Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be emailed at: kimohp@gmail. Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.